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02-09-06 Residences to go on Mersman site

By Tim Cox

  The owners of Brickyard Investments intend to move forward with redevelopment of the former Mersman Furniture Co. complex with or without city assistance.

  Jerry Butler of Mendon, representing the investment group, told Celina city officials Wednesday that the company plans to apply for tax credits from the Ohio Housing Finance Authority. Company officials plan to level the sprawling industrial complex and replace the structures with a combination of apartments for senior citizens and three-bedroom starter homes.

  City officials plan to pass resolutions of support for the proposal but are offering no financial assistance. The city might eventually apply for some grant funding to assist the project, but that remains uncertain.

  "There will be no direct public funding," said Kent Bryan, the city's community development consultant.

  The proposed investment by Brickyard is about $7 million, including $2.5 million for the single-story apartment complexes and another $4.5 million for the single-family homes. Demolition of the site is estimated at $1 million or more.  The city had planned to partner with the company to help redevelop the site. But the city was rejected late last year for a $1.7 million grant from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund that would have funded the clearing of the three-square-block area.

  City officials might agree to reapply for the program, but right now no deadline for applications has been set. The program might not be ready to accept the next round of applications until the next state budget is set this summer, Bryan said.

  City officials also agreed to consider applying for a $750,000 grant that will be available later this spring. That money also could be used to help pay for the demolition of the Mersman complex.

  Brickyard officials should learn by July 1 whether their tax credit application is approved by the state. The city's support for the project should enhance its chances of approval, officials said.

  Under the current plan, not all of the Mersman complex would be razed. A small portion of the structure still deemed viable would remain in place. Also, Brickyard does not own part of the complex, including the blue Alumacast building at the intersection of Livingston Street and Brandon Avenue and a former cannery building owned by Standard Printing Co., publisher of this newspaper.


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